Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Canning

It seems as though practically every blog I've visited in the past few days has had pictures of home canning posted. Pears at Wisteria's, talk of the pros and cons of freezing versus canning at JoVE's, lovely pictures of canned tomatoes and jam at More Friends and a Blog, and talk of deals and canning at NicolaKnits. So of course I HAVE to join the party, because I too have been canning.

And no, it isn't just because we're back on another Little House book, although that certainly intensifies things. Whenever we read this series, I've caught myself making steamed puddings, fruit tarts, bread, and freezing beans and peas from the garden. I'm pretty sure I've been bewitched by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Richard says, there are worse things to be bewitched by.

Last night I made some marmalade (orange, lemon and grapefruit), mint jelly, and salsa. You can see them in the photo above. I went to bed last night to the sound of the lids sealing: pop, pop, pop. Sounds weird, but knowing that every jar sealed gave me the same feeling as when my ATM purchases are approved!

The marmalade uses the pectin in the peels to make it thick and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Not too tangy or bitter (must have been all that sugar). The mint jelly is a first, but we have an entire section of the garden devoted to mint (because we love it so much), and it occurred to me that some jelly might be an interesting way of preserving that wonderful taste over the winter. I wasn't going to colour it but FDPG was, err, assisting me last night and seemed genuinely distressed that the mint tea wasn't greener, so I let her add a drop of blue food dye to intensify the colour. There were only a few jars of salsa last night, not enough of my tomatoes are ripe just yet. The best part about the salsa is that it contains tomatoes, poblano chilies, green peppers, garlic and onions from my garden. I grew them all by my own self (a Max-ism).

So there you have it. Fresh from the garden. Ready to sit on the cold room shelves. Ready for the dark days of winter.

3 comments:

Vivian said...

One of these days, I am going to grow my own vegetables and learn how to make jellies and jams. The canning process seems so complicated, but the rewards sound so heavenly.

Becky said...

I've been so busy with canning and schooling I haven't had the chance to take any pictures! I was canning peaches till midnight last night, and before that peach preserves, mustard pickle, plum jam (some with red plums, others with yellow plums), and chokecherry jelly. The kids picked more chokecherries so syrup is next. And there are still Evans cherries to be picked. And beets to be picked and pickled. Will it never end?! But I love that feeling, from "Little House in the Big Woods", of all the provisions in the attic, snugged away for the coming seasons. My daughter came in the house the other day, when it was cool and cloudy outside, and she said how much she loved the kitchen at this time of year -- "all warm and fruity and sugary" :).

Love the look of the mint jelly, though I can't stand to eat the stuff. My father likes it with lamb, and we also had a jar in the fridge (storebought) that he, and only he, used once a year.

sheila said...

You know, Vivian, it's not too bad, once you get the hang of it. You learn what a rolling boil it, you learn how to soak the lids a bit first, and you learn not to let the hot lids drip down your arms. And one thing I find handy for non-pectin jams (or marmalades) is a candy thermometer, because you need to boil the jam until it reaches a certain temperature.
And dragging jars of plum, cherry, strawberry, peach, or apple jelly out of the cold room is the most wonderfully sublime experience. It's addictive.

I'm going to go look up Evans cherries. I've never heard of them, Becky. And chokecherries! They sound SO odd. I've never seen any. Are they about the same size as Oregon grape, or bigger? Here we're knee deep in blackberries, figs, plums, peaches, chilies, and tomatoes. I juiced some transparent apples and made jelly with the juice, a first for me. It was lovely. Now I'm off to make some jalapeno pepper jam. I'm with you on the mint jelly. I don't think I like it much either, but I can see it in salad dressings, dips, and strange cheese mixtures at Christmas time. Not to mention dripping over a nice BBQed leg of lamb.
Funny how long those Little House books stick with you, isn't it. I think about them every time I make a big batch of something, or make a pot of soup, or even just walk into the cold room. Love it.